Monday, February 21, 2011

More Numbers: 200 Short Stories

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been reading a lot of short fiction. This has been partly for my column in Salon Futura (column #6 is here). I've kept up with the spreadsheet thing, although I've consolidated it into 1 sheet and moved more of my note-taking out of my Moleskine notebook and onto Evernote. Thanks to all this, I know that I have now hit 200 stories, and I thought I'd update the numbers here.

[Caveat Emptor, same as the first: this is the most biased possible set of numbers. It only tracks stories that I've read, and specifically stories that I've finished. I skip a story if it doesn't grab me. So these numbers inevitably reflect my own taste. But there is an underlying field out there, and my own proclivities can only distort it so much. Elements here consist of a huge number of subjective classifications, based on nothing more substantive than my own whim. Also, I've been limiting my reading to venues that I can read in a convenient electronic form.]

Here are the genres that I've seen:
SF 108
Fantasy 76
SF w/ some F 6
Horror 3
Alt hist 3
Mainstream 24
This round skewed towards sf because of a couple of anthologies that I read for other review venues, each of which was sf-specific.

Protagonist gender:

Male 95
Female 83
Less perfectly matched than the last time, possibly because of the late skew towards sf. Other protagonist categories:

Child/Teen 20
Transgender 3
Gender Undefined 4
Alien 6
Ghosts 2
AI/Robots 2
The number of stories passing the Bechdel test perfectly doubled to: 40.

I've also found 34 protagonists that are human and identified by non-white ethnic markers.

I'm also keeping track of POVs, but there's nothing terribly shocking here:
1st 81
2nd 3
3rd lim 75
3rd omni 31
3rd mult 8
More interesting are settings. Of those stories set on Earth:
Earth's past 21
Earth Present 42
Near future 51
Mid future 24
Far future 17
A few more far future tales this time, although again that was skewed by a specific anthology.

How about physical settings? We're still sticking pretty close to home:
America 68
Earth 39
Generic Fantasy Earth 25
We've got 47 stories taking place in some sort of space setting, including extra-solar planets, space stations, etc.

Finally, I've been keeping track of some tropes. Here are some of the most common:
Violence 64
Aliens 40
Happy Ending? 32
Shape-shifting 25
Biotech 20
Gods/Goddesses 20
Ecological damage 19
Politics 17
Religion 17
Mythical beings 16
Magic artefact 15
So that's what I've got so far. I feel a bit odd about the themed anthologies skewing the data, but they are equally part of the field. I definitely feel the need to read a fantasy-oriented one (maybe Zombies vs. Unicorns) to even things out.

Once again, here are the venues from which I've been getting my short fiction. Let me know if there are other places I need to be looking!

Strange Horizons
Fantasy Magazine
Abyss & Apex
Expanded Horizons
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Port Iris
Crossed Genres
Basement Stories
Subterranean Online
Daily SF
Weird Tales
Brain Harvest
Midnight East
Absent Willow Review
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
Albedo One
Kenyon Review
Electric Velocipede
World SF Blog
Icarus [Much easier to access now that it's available through the Wizard's Tower Press eBook store]
Destination: Future [Anthology]

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